Are Sinus Infections Contagious?

Fotolia_145092136_XS.jpgYou wake up with a headache, sinus pressure, coughing, a sore throat, and you’re exhausted. Is it a sinus infection? Maybe you have an important appointment, but are you contagious? These are all questions likely going through your mind as you try to determine the best course of action so you can get better and keep those around you from getting sick.

Common colds and the flu can lead to sinus infections, and both of those are caused by viruses. But while viral sinus infections can be spread from one person to another, not all sinus infections are viral. Some sinus infections are caused by bacteria or even fungi. Bacterial and fungal sinus infections are NOT contagious. Other non-contagious causes include the following:

  • Allergies
  • Deviated septums
  • Nasal polyps
  • Nasal tumors


The most common symptoms of sinus infections include the following:

  • Pain or pressure in and around the sinuses
  • Headaches
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Thick yellow or green nasal discharge
  • Loss of smell
  • Cough
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sore throat (often due to postnasal drip)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever


There are various treatment options available, and many are over-the-counter options. These include the following:

  • Pain relievers
  • Decongestants
  • Antihistamines
  • Saline sprays and rinses

If none of these treatments help to improve the infection, or if your symptoms persist without improvement, you likely need to see a doctor. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, nasal corticosteroids, nasal antihistamines, or even corticosteroid treatments.

In any case, if you suspect that you have a sinus infection your best course of action is to seek medical care. An untreated sinus infection can lead to serious long-term complications. Your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for your particular situation, and provide the care needed to recover much faster than if you try to treat your infection on your own.